Stories in Unbalanced that you’ll love, handpicked by our team.
NFL Week 9 Recap: Nine Months
January 2, 2023. We all remember that Monday evening. The Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals faced each other in what was the final Monday night game of the season. Regarding the game and the storyline, it was two teams jockeying for position in the AFC, as they were both in position to possibly take the AFC's #1 seed. This was an important game for both teams, but before the 1st quarter ended, there was suddenly something much, much more important than the game of football.
Fantasy Football is BACK!
Despite being English, I have found myself becoming more and more enamoured with the sport that the Americans call “football”. Watching American Football in the UK used to be a most difficult proposition, aside from the Superbowl the only way to watch any action was a highlights show at 1am on a Wednesday morning. During the nineties and early 2000’s I was school aged, but after that coverage started to improve. In recent years Sky Sports have added the Thursday and Monday night games, as well as three Sunday matches. Even then, the absolutely baffling decision to host games only on nights when most people have work confuse me no end. But as my interest has grown, I’ve put additional effort into trying to keep up with the games when I can. My wife has since joined me in this interest, but unlike me she is a reasonable person, who goes to bed at a sensible time rather than staying up into the night watching foreign sports and typing up nonsense for strangers to read (4th wall break! Hi, thanks for reading).
NFL Week 1 Recap: A New York Minute
The NFL is back, and this fan was ever so eager for the season to start. My reasons were simple. One, I had a good feeling about Fantasy Football this year, and two, I'm a Yankees fan who wants to forget about this disaster of a season. With every new NFL season comes new storylines and new questions, and one of the biggest new storylines of the debuting 2023 NFL season had to be Aaron Rodgers making his New York Jets debut on Monday Night Football.
I lay on the ground flat on my back after the hit. I could literally feel the pain shoot down from my chest right out my butt; it was like I was trying to pass a knife through my digestive tract. It was, without a doubt, the most painful thing I had ever experienced.
The lioness has laid to rest
The double champ has officially retired as of this weekend. It's never been a secret my favorite female fighter is Valentina Shevchenko, so Amanda Nunes is always a sore subject for me. I would have loved to see Valentina redeem her losses. But it is what it is and this article is for Amanda. My goodness what an amazing career she has had.
Finals Game Five: Joker's Wild
When the Denver Nuggets took Games Three and Four so so easily in Miami, I knew that it would be over. I was looking forward to Game Five, because it was back in Denver's Ball Arena, and the Nuggets have a good chance to clinch their very first NBA Championship on their home court. To be honest, I expected the Nuggets to flat out demolish the Miami Heat--you know, just get it over with and celebrate.
Peanuts & Crackerjack
Cleveland Stadium 1948 The ninth inning stretch. The ball game is tied with two outs, two strikes and a man on second. I tap the bat on home plate. Its dead weight lumbers as mental exhaustion takes its toll. Man on second, willing to chance it. Pitcher eyes him but doesn't give in to the dangerous bluff. I kick up dust, readying my stance, the bat lays stiff upon my cramping shoulder. It's daylight still, but the stadium lights are on anyway. They trick my brain into believing they are causing the sweltering heat. The roar from the crowd intensifies. Sporadic clouds are motionless as if they don't want to miss this exhilarating predicament. The crafty catcher adjusts his stance and spits to the dry dirt. The staunch umpire doesn't flinch or even blink; he knows how important his call will be. The pitcher winds up, his grip tells me its gonna curve. The release is fierce. Beads of sweat from his hair and face disperse in every direction as the force of his might is unfailing. My left leg lifts - an instinctual move that will increase the power of my swing. My eyes lock on the speeding white dot as it instantly becomes the target I intend to destroy. The swing is late, but I manage a solid tip. The ball is taking a fast bounce toward the pitcher who is recovering from the almighty throw. The man on second leaves in a desperate rush. I drop the bat and focus my sprint on the only destination I have - first base. Three defenders race inward to be the first to retrieve the skidding ball. Man is now on third! I watch the open glove of my adversary, wondering if I will win this race. I switch my attention to his eyes, looking for a clue, some kind of reaction that tells me the ball is in the air and heading his way. All I see is frustration. The roar of the crowd spikes, something happens that I can’t see. The first baseman takes off right as my left stride touches the bag. I waste no time turning my head to see the pitcher laying on his stomach, pounding the turf with an open glove. He misses the opportunity to out me and the ball has quickly bounced past him. Excitement grows. This isn’t over yet... It has become a fight to tag out the runner heading homeward. The catcher falls to his knees in obvious desperation as he watches my teammate make the run of his life. He knows it’s going to be close when he sees the shortstop fumble the ball for a second too long. I jump up and down with no plans on leaving first base. All my chips are on the speed and agility of the active runner. His cleats dig into the dirt, creating a dust storm in his wake. He dives into the air and lands on his chest to begin the crucial slide to home plate. The shortstop fires the ball to the catcher. It immediately begins closing the gap. The crowd's roar decreases as everyone awaits this gut-wrenching outcome. The bench begins to celebrate even before he reaches the plate. The crowd goes nuts. Everyone knows how this story will end… The runner is met by the entire team as his fingers inch across home plate. The sound of the ball making contact with the catcher's glove is milliseconds too late. The ump swings his arms outward, officially calling him safe. We won! We won this hard-fought game to advance! Emotions sink in.
First comes the searing shock of mind-numbing agony from flesh-to-flesh contact. Barely clothed bone against barely protected muscle. Anything impacted with enough force can go flying. Vaseline, hair, blood, sweat, fragments of skin, mouth piece, shoes. Everything is fair game.
Maple Leafs, You Have One Job!
On Sunday, March 26, 2022, the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Nashville Predators, 3-2, behind two goals from their captain, John Tavares. On the following day, the Leafs were off, but they could clinch a playoff spot during their idle day with a loss from the Florida Panthers. Even better, because the Leafs picked up two points, Florida's loss didn't have to be in regulation. In a crazy scenario, the Panthers were in Ontario, but against the province's other franchise, the Ottawa Senators. This meant that the Leafs and their fans had to (for that night) pull for their provincial enemies to pull out the victory. The Sens did just that, winning 5-2 over the struggling Panthers, and that gave the Leafs another playoff appearance.
Thank You, Willie O'Ree
Funny story; a fear I had when watching hockey as a kid was that I wouldn't be able to find the puck, hence why I was grateful to the NHL on FOX for giving us the glow puck. I never thought I'd be into hockey as much as I am now. And no, it wasn't because I'm Black. Mainly, it was because I didn't have cable as a kid. Basketball, baseball, and football were available daily without cable, but hockey really wasn't. I followed everything via the sports section and only watched the All-Star Game because it was on a non-cable channel. When I got cable in 1997, I watched more hockey...way more.
Playoffs? Are You Kidding Me?
Hello readers, I hope you all have been enjoying my recent posts. It’s been a while since I’ve written an NFL blog, but I’ve decided to give it another try. We are almost a third of the way through the 2022-23 NFL season and so far, there have been a handful of teams that did not make the postseason last year but have showed some noticeable improvement and/or displayed flashes of upside that seem to indicate they could be contenders when January arrives. I’ve identified seven such teams and consulted my (imaginary) magic eight ball to seek answers to the question… will (insert team name here) make the playoffs this season?
Yankees Are Beasts of the East
On September 27, 2022, the New York Yankees defeated the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-2, to clinch the American League East for the 20th time in franchise history, and the first time since 2019. Divisional play began in 1969, with the American and National Leagues divided into two divisions: East and West (the Central Divisions were formed in 1994). It wasn't until 1976 that the Yankees won the AL East for the first time, but despite that long wait, the Yankees' 20 division titles are the most in the division's history, with the Boston Red Sox being second with 10, which is half of the total of their hated rivals.